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Archive for June, 2010

Books in hand

The very first day I was in a classroom as something other than a student, my hands were empty only for a minute. I had pens, black serious binders, filler paper. But those sat nose down on the floor, in a bag, waiting. I snuck around. The teacher let me. I wasn’t the teacher, I wasn’t the student. Why was I there? They were only a little curious. Later, they chided her for not introducing me. I was not ready to be introduced, with empty hands, wearing skirts.

Finally, they were doing something. I doubt I knew what it was, but I wanted to help. I wanted to do something besides doubt. So I stood up. The last and final and first and eternal act of teaching: to stand up. I decided to take something with me, on this long sojourn of standing up, of moving. I did not take my binder or my pen or my cell phone. I reached over and grabbed a dictionary and began to circle. My hands stopped kneading the air and kneaded the pages.

Now I can teach with my hands empty, but why should I? I feel better, weightier and funnier and lighter with a book in my hand. I feel like I can clutch it or hand it over. Which will it be today? Mostly I shuffle books like a blackjack dealer, I am giving, looking, dealing. But days are I need to clutch a book, maybe they need to see me clutch it. Why would someone do that? Their hands can learn.

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